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What is a composition? Newborn Photography & Babies Safety.

Recently I wrote a post about newborn photography, you can read it here. I wanted to talk about another part of newborn photography that’s even more important than getting the most adorable shot ever… And thats the babies safety!

Babies safety must always be the MOST important thing on our minds when shooting a newborn session. From washing your hands as soon as you get in the door (I always wash my hands in the house where mom and dad can see me so they will feel reassured when I start holding baby) to the art of posing.

Let me tell you the behind the scenes of this pumpkin shot (see below). The night before the session I was at the grocery store, saw the pumpkin and knew I really wanted to use it with the 2 month old baby I would be photographing the next day. I got the pumpkin squeaky clean before the shoot but did not make any cuts (outside of the top) until I saw the babies size. When the family arrived I told them various ideas that I had and we shared things we had each been thinking about. Before ever mentioning the pumpkin idea I felt the parent out first. First time parents are often very nervous about making the baby lay naked alone, let alone sticking her in a pumpkin. (Give em’ a couple more and they will gladly hand one upside down for you! 😉
This new family seemed very relaxed so I ran the pumpkin idea by them and they liked it. When we were ready to try it, I ran hot water inside the shell and dried it out to keep her from getting startled by the cold. We originally had the idea of laying the pumpkin on it’s side with her in but she kept herself stick straight so I quickly improvised and did the shot this way. I got TWO shots and that was it. The below (was really a test shot) and the one after was centered but she is screaming. So this was really it, with the magic of photoshop I copied the wall on the right, flipped it and transformed it on the left as well as the very edge of the pumpkin, and of course I edited out the arms.

Arms are being edited out a lot more than you might think.

I remember when I first was looking at newborn photographers, seeing some baby poses and being in awe as to how they were doing it. A thread went around a forum asking if anybody had tried and what they thought the photographer was doing to make it happen. Some people were going to try some not very safe things to make it happen and finally someone reported that she’d read it was a composition. But the questions continued to to circulate and people didn’t seem to understand what that meant. Yes we talk about rules of composition but in this case they meant ‘a fake’.

Here is a great example by Heather Ward (thanks Heaher!) for a very fun and intriguing composition shot!

So next time you are marveling at an incredible newborn image, marvel away but remember a few things… There may be arms protecting that you can’t see and I can guarantee that mom or dad is always only one breath out of the shot protecting babies safety. And it should never be any other way!

Want to read more? Here is a great post by Jodie Otte that I recently read. It’s the inspiration behind this one!


  1. Shahrul Shaharuddin says:

    cool tips.. thanx for sharing.. 🙂

  2. Kristen says:

    Thanks so much for sharing!! I have always wondered! Its also a rare thing that you can see before and afters like this…really reaally helpfull and cool to see how it was "really" done 🙂

  3. Jill Knight Photography says:

    Thanks! Do you care to do a Photoshop post on how to edit out those arms??? I love the pumpkin shot!!!


    p.s. I'm just trying to get my bludomain site up and running along with purchasing a slideshow program. I love all of your cool tips and ideas…but I haven't seen you mention anything about slideshow software. I was looking at slideshowpro, but not sure….any recommendations? Thanks!

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